Waste sector fatalities 17 times higher than industry average

Seven people were fatally injured in the waste and recycling industry in 2018/19, a lower figure than last year’s 12 deaths, according to provisional statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) last Wednesday (3 July).

Graph to show number of fatal injuries by main industry group

The HSE, the national regulatory body for workplace health and safety, has released its annual report of workplace injuries, revealing that a total of 147 workers were fatally injured across all industries between April 2018 and March 2019.

Although the figures for the waste and recycling sector were lower than last year’s statistics, the data shows that the waste industry remains high-risk, and had the second highest rate of fatal injuries across all sectors.

With a fatality rate of 6.05 deaths per 100,000 workers, the rate of fatal injury in the waste sector was 17 times higher than the industry average. The fatality rate for the waste industry was second only to the agriculture sector, which had a rate of fatal injury of 9.21 deaths per 100,000 workers, 18 times higher than the industry average.

Graph to show rate of fatal injuries by selected main industry group

Across all industries, the most common cause of fatal injury was falling from a height, followed by being struck by a moving vehicle. This is a high risk for workers in the waste sector, who regularly work with heavy machinery and moving vehicles, with injuries caused by moving machinery and falling objects also key dangers.

Although the data showed that the UK has one of the lowest rates of fatal injury across the EU – 0.53 deaths per 100,000 workers against the EU average of 1.23 for 2016 – HSE Chair Martin Temple reminded that, in certain sectors, workplace deaths remain “worryingly high”.

Commenting on the general statistics, HSE Chair Martin Temple said: “Today’s release of workplace fatality statistics is a reminder that despite the UK’s leading position in health and safety, we cannot become complacent as we seek to fulfill our mission in preventing injury, ill health and death at work.

“Whatever the sector, we should remember that any change in numbers provides little comfort to the family, friends and colleagues of the 147 whose lives were cut short this year while doing their job.”

The full 2018/19 HSE report can be viewed on the HSE website

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